Monday, September 29, 2014

a favorite book

"A gentleman tucks his undershirt into his undershorts."

"A gentleman never writes personal letters on his business stationary."

"When a gentleman wears a vest, he leaves the bottom button undone."

These are some of the examples of gentlemen's etiquette in John Bridges' essential book, "How to be a Gentleman" - available through Brooks Brothers.

"If a gentleman wants his guests to leave, he puts the liquor away."

The first time I read the book, I cackled and snorted-- something a gentleman should probably avoid doing in social settings. The book was hilarious, but at the same time, it was riveting. I knew about some of the do's and don'ts but many others were new to me. Even the advice that seemed silly at first made sense in the end, and that made the book even more enthralling.

"A gentleman stands up when he is introduced."

There are several books in the series, one about raising a gentleman, one about how to know the appropriate things to say in various situations, and one about how to be a good host. The original books are small, pocket manual size, richly finished with blue leather covers and gold-edged pages. The rich finish, for me, is part of the gag. There are also more recent, expanded editions available. Every gentleman should have a copy of this book!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

NW Quilting Expo: Eye-Popping Modern Quilts

"Churn-Dash 2" by Martha Peterson (with Chandra Wu & Deborah Ferguson)
The Northwest Quilting Expo was at the Portland Expo Center over the last three days, and what a show it was! One of the best in its 14-year history. During the years I have attended, there has been a shift in the type of quilts in the show. There are fewer of the glittery show quilts lavishly quilted and full of crystals; fewer traditional quilts, and more Modern quilts.

Seattle Modern Quilt Guild was this year's guest Modern guild, and I was very impressed with their work. "Churn-Dash 2" by Martha Peterson, an improvisational round robin style quilt made with Chandra Wu and Deborah Ferguson, was my favorite quilt in the show. For me, it represented an updated, elegant expression of Cubism. In a lot of ways, I liked the quilt better than a cubist painting. Crisp and architectural, it sparkled much more than any of the show quilts covered in crystals.

"Reflections" by Carol Parks also knocked my socks off. It was part of the exhibit of quilts inspired by Portland bridges-- a wonderful exhibit with many fine quilts, several made by people I know and admire.

"Plymouth Rocks 1" by SMQG members, quilted by Sandie Holtman
Two quilts made for a Seattle Modern Quilt Guild solids challenge were also among my favorites, and in reviewing all the pictures, I was starting to see a theme among the quilts that really stopped me in my tracks. I was much more interested in the bold, improvisational, geometric pieced quilts than anything else in the show.

"Plymouth Rocks 2" by SMQG members, quilted by Lisa Nolte
"Happy Encounter; Gwen Meets Karla, Karla Meets Angela" by Jackie Benedetti
Another modern quilt that made me swoon was "Happy Encounter; Gwen Meets Karla, Karla Meets Angela" by Jackie Benedetti. Blocks were inspired by and created during workshops by Gwen Marston and Karla Alexander, and Angela Walters did the quilting. Loved everything about it.

quilting by Angela Walters
There were some quilts that were not necessarily modern, but were fresh and new in their own ways. "Tileworks III" by Mary Kay Price was among my favorites. The quilt was inspired by handmade tiles, and patches were painted with shiva oils to suggest the curve of the tiles.

"Tileworks III" by Mary Kay Price
detail- "Tileworks III" by Mary Kay Price
Studio Art Quilters Association (SAQA) was another one of the exhibits, and two of my favorite quilts were side by side. "Sahalie Falls" by Amanda Miller and "Rejuvenation" by Jean Wells made quite a pair. Both were improvisationally pieced using textured fabrics in rich earth tones.

"Sahalie Falls" by Amanda Miller 
"Rejuvenation" by Jean Wells
Of course, there were plenty of epic quilts that were not of the modern ilk, and three of my favorites were one-of-a-kind original designs. The "Arizona Centennial Commemorative Quilt" by the Arizona State Quilt Guild; "On a Quilted Breeze" by the Oregon Coastal Quilters Guild; and "American Woman (Hippe)" by Kim Diamond and Jo Ann Blade were very special indeed.

The Arizona Centennial Commemorative Quilt
The Arizona Centennial Commemorative Quilt (detail)
"On a Quilted Breeze" 2010, by the Oregon Coastal Quilters Guild
"American Woman (Hippe)" by Kim Diamond and Jo Ann Blade
There was lots to see, plenty of vendors, special exhibits, raffle quilts, and bed turnings of antique and vintage quilts by Latimer Quilt & Textile Center. Kudos to the event organizers and all the quiltmakers on an especially stunning show this year. Can't wait for next year's show!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Generation Q Magazine

Just got my hands on a copy of the latest Generation Q Magazine, and I am happy to be included in the issue. More like elated, considering my lead page head shot is graced by six amazing quilt makers whose work I greatly admire. It makes me happy to see all their faces.

I had to smile when Victoria Findlay Wolfe was one of those happy faces. We were both in Generation Q previously, and more recently showed up on the contributors' page in American Quilter. That was the day I learned to be thankful for being at the end of the alphabet!

The Double Knit Twins :)
in American Quilter
Scott Hansen did a terrific job with the interview, asking some questions I hadn't been asked before. I shared stories about getting started as a collector, the point when I recognized my collection was something more, and what it was like to start making quilts after many years of collecting.

As usual, the magazine has an impressive lineup of articles, and many familiar names including some very accomplished guildmates from Portland Modern Quilt Guild. Get your copy today, for details click here.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000

Amazon review of Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000 by Roderick Kiracofe

A few years ago, Roderick Kiracofe and I met through Facebook. There was a page for sharing pictures of old quilts. We were both members. and I was posting a lot of pictures of the quilts of the 1970s. Roderick took an immediate interest in the quilts, and when he was passing through Portland in 2012 he visited my home. We shared a love for quirky, barely-vintage quilts, and I was delighted to learn he was writing a book - "Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000".

my quilt brought back fond memories for curator Amelia Peck
Before the book was released, Roderick sent me an e-mail to tell me there would be a big surprise for me in the book, but he wouldn't say what it was. I just received a copy, and not only is one of my quilts included as a full-page illustration, the quilt was mentioned in the essay "In Dialogue with an Anonymous Quilt" by Amelia Peck, curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. An excellent surprise, and I am honored-- but even without this personal connection to the book I would unconditionally recommend it for anyone who loves quilts and art.

The book will surely be one of the seminal quilt history books of the 21st century, a successful follow-up to "The American Quilt: A History of Cloth & Comfort 1750-1950". It is brilliant, full of vibrant, offbeat quilts, and excellent essays by noteworthy experts in the field of quilts and textiles. Worth reading cover to cover. This book ushers in a new era of collecting, a new breed of collector and a whole new genre of quilts. Perfectly timed, considering how much the new generation of quiltmakers in the Modern Quilting movement appreciate improvisational style. Thank you, Roderick, for generously sharing your quilts and your knowledge, for including quilts from other collections, and for giving us the gift of another amazing, memorable book of quilts.

To purchase the book, click here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

unconventional, unexpected quilts

strip pieced quilt, c. 1960
Today I celebrate the release of Roderick Kiracofe's new book, Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000. One quilt from my collection is included in the book, and I'm eager to get my hands on a copy. As a tribute, here are some favorite unconventional, unexpected quilts from my collection.

strip pieced medallion, c. 1970
pieced and appliquéd quilt, c. 1960-1970
appliquéd and embroidered bed cover, c. 1970
Double Wedding Ring, c. 1970
To find out which of my quilts was included in the book, order your copy today! Congratulations to Roderick Kiracofe on the successful release of Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000. Available now online - click here for details.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

meeting William Wegman

I love books, and have a whole collection of quilt books. Another very special part of my book collection is a stack of William Wegman books, inscribed with drawings.

only one of these books is not inscribed
Some of the inscriptions are personal, such as the covered wagon with Oregon on the side. Bill did that one inside My Town when he learned I was moving to Oregon.

Mom goes to church with Bill's sister, Pam, in Rangeley, Maine. Many of his great photos in rustic and natural settings were taken in Rangeley. One of the photo shoots for Little Red Riding Hood was done at my parents' location because there was a small cottage with red shutters, or maybe it was a tool shed. :)

One day I stopped by a photo shoot for The Hardly Boys. A dog was on a tall stool dressed like a gas station attendant, but he would not pay attention to direction. I think it was Chip, and he was sniffing a lot. Bill realized the dog wanted the rotisserie chicken from inside, so someone was immediately sent to get chicken.

As soon as there was chicken involved, the dog perked up for the camera, a large format box camera with the capacity to hold the big Polaroid 20" x 24" prints. There was a truck on site to develop the photos, and several assistants. It was fun to watch.

Bill sometimes did book signings at the local book shop in the summer, and Mom would get books to give me at Christmas. Almost every year for several years.

The first time I met Bill was at Rhode Island School of Design in the 1980s. He was exhibiting in the Benson Hall gallery at RISD, and much of the work was his early Man Ray work. Later, I met him again in Rangeley, at Orgonon of all places.

There was a tag sale every summer at Orgonon, the former home and laboratory of the infamous Wilhelm Reich. Bill was looking for props and clothing to dress up the dogs for photos. I have always enjoyed his quirky sense of humor. If you look through his books, you are likely to see items he bought at the Orgonon tag sale.

We knew Bill before he had the gig with Sesame Street, which introduced the dogs to a very broad audience. Every so often there would be a litter, a new generation of dogs. From Man Ray to Fay, to Battina, Crooky, Chundo and Chip. The dogs were all a riot, very smart, a little sneaky, and extremely photogenic.

Bill has done very well, and the dogs have always been treated like royalty. At Rangeley Lake, they would run around, off the end of the dock to fetch whatever was tossed in the lake. They were good swimmers and loved the water. I enjoy having so many of these books with the great drawings to remember meeting William Wegman and his famous Weimaraners. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

nice threads!

vintage chart, thread held behind cut-out windows
I have a little obsession with swatch books and samples lately, and found a couple neat vintage thread samples on eBay last week. They arrived the other day, and I have been enjoying looking at them. Both samples appear to be from the 1960s or 70s. The one from Conso Products is a small chart. The other, from American Thread, is a book with several pages held together by two metal rings. Each page has its own group of colors.

Look! Turkey Red!
They needed this chart on Project Runway last night. Emerald, not Hunt Green!!
I'm not sure what I'll do with these samples, other than share them and keep them out of the sun. It would be interesting to know if anyone remembers using these threads back in the day. Did you use any of these threads for sewing projects? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.